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Andres Iniesta

Iniesta’s Vissel fire manager after poor J-League start

Tokyo (AFP) – Andres Iniesta’s Japanese team Vissel Kobe have fired manager Atsuhiro Miura after a seven-game winless start to the new J-League season.

Vissel announced Sunday that Miura, who had been in charge since September 2020 and was previously the club’s director of sport, would step down with the team third from bottom of the table.

Vissel have taken only four points from seven games despite the presence of World Cup-winner Iniesta and his former Barcelona team-mates Bojan Krkic and Sergi Samper.

Miura led Vissel to a third-place finish in last season’s J-League and to the semi-finals of the 2020 AFC Champions League but he has failed to win a trophy for the big-spending club.

“I’m disappointed to be leaving before the team has fulfilled its goals,” Miura said in a statement released by the club.

“I’ve been involved in the big changes that have taken place at Vissel since 2018 and I’m deeply grateful that I’ve been able to fight alongside the club and its fans.”

Iniesta joined Vissel in 2018 after making more than 600 appearances for Barcelona, and played alongside former Spain team-mate David Villa and German World Cup-winner Lukas Podolski in Kobe.

The 37-year-old Iniesta signed a new two-year contract extension in May last year.

Iniesta last week helped Vissel qualify for next month’s group stages of the AFC Champions League with a 4-3 playoff victory over Australia’s Melbourne Victory.

Vissel, who are owned by tech billionaire Hiroshi Mikitani, one of Japan’s richest men, have also signed several Japan internationals including striker Yuya Osako in recent years.

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